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Max, Past and Private

fifteen years earlier
After the funeral, people went back to Max's place - only it was just Marie's now, he supposed, since Max was out there, in the ground.
The dress blues were uncomfortable, not that he'd have felt at ease in anything. If it hadn't been for the fact that he needed to talk to Don, he might have given in to the urge to run out, but that would have been disrespectful. If Marie had something to say, he'd give her the opportunity to say it; he owed her that much.
God, seeing the place like this...Max had brought him home a few times, let Marie fuss over him like a rotten kid brother, met the kids, cripes, the kids...the kids had stood there today at the graveside, watching their dad go down. Mike fished a a beer out a cooler and turned to come face-to-face with Marie.
"Mikey," she said, stepping towards him.
"I'm so sorry..." he began, but she cut him off in a crushing hug. The shoulder of his dress uniform grew damp as he stood there awkwardly, one arm around her.
Finally, she stepped back, dabbing at her eyes. "You'll get them, Mikey. Sooner or later. Donnie's around the side of the house. I gave him all of the things," her voice caught again, "all of the things Max was workin' on."
He nodded, unable to say anything more.
"I better get back out there. It's a real good turnout. Lotta folks payin' their respect." She smiled, he face still streaked with the tears. "Max woulda said it was more for the beer, though."
He shook his head, his own voice hoarse. "He was the best, Marie. We're gonna get the bastards."
She nodded and rejoined the crowd. Mike headed back in the direction she'd indicated, looking for Cragen. Before he could find the captain, he bumped into Matt Greevey.
Still in the black suit he'd worn to his father's funeral, the boy blocked his way, hands balled into fists at his side, eyes red from crying, but there were no tears now. Instead he practically bristled with anger.
"Where were you?" he hissed.
"Matt..."
"You were his partner! You were supposed to look out for him!"
"I -"
"You knew we needed him! Who needs you? Nobody! It should have been YOU! Why wasn't it you?" With that, Matt shoved past him, running for the safety of the house.
Mike watched him go in silence. What could he say? Matt had only put voice to the questions that had been running through his mind since the night Max died. Once the door slammed, he turned to join the group of men at the side of the house.

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